Georgia O’Keeffe is perhaps best known for her paintings of flowers and the American southwest, but in the mid-1920s (when she was in her late 30s), O’Keeffe painted a series of 15 cityscapes, including this image of the Shelton Hotel.
When the Shelton was completed in 1924, it was the tallest hotel in the world at a towering 34 stories. O’Keeffe moved into the 30th floor of the Shelton with her new husband Alfred Stieglitz in 1925 and painted this image a year later. The structure captivated O’Keeffe, who streamlined the building’s form to accentuate its verticality.
But instead of merely focusing on the architecture, O’Keeffe also highlighted the effects of light and atmosphere. About the moment that inspired her to make this painting, O’Keeffe said “I went out one morning to look at [the Shelton Hotel] and there was the optical illusion of a bite out of one side of the tower made by the sun, with sunspots against the building and against the sky.”
The aforementioned “sunspots” actually resulted from lens flare, in which stray light in a camera reflects off the lens into dark areas of the film. So the painting explores the visual effects of a camera and represents how the Shelton might look in a photograph. By portraying such an unusual view, O’Keeffe emphasized her own role in the work’s creation. “One can’t paint New York as it is,” she said at the time, “but rather as it is felt.”
Image Credit: Georgia O’Keeffe. The Shelton with Sunspots, N.Y., 1926. Gift of Leigh B. Block.
2 days 47 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Abstract Experiments: Latin American Art on Paper after 1950
During the mid-20th century, Latin American artists were active in the evolving international discourse on modernity, at a time of industrial expansion and political transformation in South America.
Abstract Experiments provides an illuminating complement to Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium and reflects the Art Institute’s recent efforts to expand its holdings of Latin American painting, sculpture, and works on paper.
2 days 18 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium
The Art Institute presents the first U.S. retrospective of this groundbreaking Brazilian artist. A relentless innovator always pushing the boundaries of art, Oiticica is arguably the most influential Latin American artist of the post–World War II period and is recognized for inspiring Tropicália, a powerful movement that influenced art across media in Brazil.
In addition to viewing his early works on paper, visitors are invited to take off their shoes and walk through immersive sand-filled installations, view Amazonian parrots, and try on wearable objects designed by the artist.
2 days 20 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Whitney will be taking over our Instagram for the next 24 hours. Follow along to see posts from Max and Julien’s visit to the museum.